Special announcement: Funding cuts bring changes as the PHCA office closes



To our residents, members, and stakeholders,

In anticipation of a loss of federal funding that will reduce our total budget by approximately one-third, it has been determined that the Polish Hill Civic Association (PHCA) organization will no longer be able to sustain its sole full-time staff position.  As a result, the PHCA office will close its doors as of August 15.

Beginning September 2015, the Polish Hill Civic Association is no longer eligible to receive Advisory Commission on Community-Based Organizations (ACCBO) funding.  To be Community-Development eligible (CD eligible), at least 51% of residents must be low income, as reported in the Winter-Spring 2015 issue of our newsletter and at some of our community meetings.

In September 2014, the PHCA was notified that the Department of Housing and Urban Development is now using the data set from the American Community Survey to determine CD eligibility.  This survey, which gathered data from a select group of Polish Hill residents, indicated that 41.73% of residents are now low income.

Losing our CD eligibility will mean an elimination of all ACCBO funding and more difficulty securing Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).  This will result in a reduction of what the PHCA receives in government grants by at least $30,000, but more likely around $40,000 — more than 30% of our total funding.  The majority of those dollars cover the PHCA’s operating expenses, including staff salary, some consultant and accounting fees, utilities, office supplies and more.  Given the financial reality, the PHCA board determined that we could no longer sustain a full-time community-oriented staff position.  This also means that we will need to reduce or eliminate the services that the staff person provided, such as the quarterly newsletter, website and blog, outreach and assistance to residents, community events, professional consultation about development in the neighborhood, and much more.

What’s next?
The board realizes that some type of staff presence is a crucial part of what the PHCA offers to the neighborhood, and we are exploring ways to achieve some part-time staffing.  The most likely way to do this would be by partnering with other community-based organizations near us.  The board is exploring several opportunities to partner with other groups to create a shared staff position that would be focused on fundraising and grant writing.

Fundraising Ahead, We Need Your Help
In September 2014, after being informed that a substantial amount of our federal funding would end in August 2015, the board realized that the most urgent task for the organization in 2015 would be to create a transition plan and to seek alternate sources of funding.  After determining the organization’s greatest needs and the neighborhood’s highest priorities, the discussion of how to do raise the dollars to fund those needs and priorities began in earnest at the July 15 board meeting.

At that meeting, the PHCA board began developing a plan to reach out to friends, residents, and stakeholders of the neighborhood who care about the community health of Polish Hill.
We ask everyone to pitch in whatever support they can to enable the PHCA to remain active in improving the lives of all the neighborhood’s residents.  Please contact our office at 412.681.1950, or email phca@phcapgh.org.

Please keep an eye out for several initiatives that will be coming out of the Fundraising Committee in the weeks ahead, which will likely include crowd funding, individual contacts, matching donations, and many other strategies.  We would love to have your help in meeting our fundraising goal.  Please let us know if you are able to help us on our path forward, or if you have any questions.

John Rhoades
President, Board of Directors
Polish Hill Civic Association

The PHCA office:  a neighborhood presence for 46 years

The Polish Hill Civic Association has been a presence since the organization was established in September 1969.   Initially the office was in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.  Shortly afterwards, through the assistance of Rev. John Jendzura of IHM, the organization was able to acquire the building at 3060 Brereton Street.

In the following decades, the organization managed to keep its office open, usually just for a day or two a week with a volunteer staff.  In the 1980s, federal funding was secured to pay a part-time staff person.  Aside from a brief period in the early 2000s, the organization kept moving forward with a combination of part-time staff and volunteers until 2009, when office hours expanded to five or six days a week and fulltime staffing.

Polish Hill residents can be very proud that this tiny community group, operating on little or no money, was able to keep an office open for almost fifty years.  A debt of gratitude is owed to all the people over the years, who fought to keep the organization alive and growing.  Thanks to all of them, Polish Hill is the growing and thriving community that it is today.

A Personal Note from the Board
Leslie Clague has been a quintessential part of the Polish Hill Civic Association since 2008.  Working first as a volunteer and then hired as office staff, she has served as the editor, writer, photographer and archivist of the Polish Hill Voice, shaping the voice of the organization in a huge way.  She coordinated the Polish Hill Arts Festival for eight years, raising funds for the event and coordinating dozens of performers, vendors, city offices and volunteers to deliver the community a remarkable experience unlike any other in the city. 
She helped organize community meetings, provided office services and assistance to neighborhood residents, managed building facility issues, and so much more.  She has served as the consistent face of the organization, being the trusted bridge between the “old-timers” and the “new folks.”   In other words, she has served as an indispensable part of the organization and the PHCA and the neighborhood will struggle to find a way forward without her. 

Tuesday September 1, 6:30 p.m.     Community Meeting
At this meeting, find out about the future of the PHCA and what’s being done to move the organization forward. Meeting will be held on the lower level of the West Penn Recreation Center, 450 30th Street.  All are welcome.

PennDOT update: Southbound Bloomfield Bridge will close on Wednesday July 29



OTMA traffic advisory


On Wednesday July 29, a new portion of the PennDOT Bigelow Boulevard roadwork will begin, which will entail new lane closures and detours.  Here is the informational Traffic Advisory from Oakland Transit Management Association, which is the public contact for the project.

PennDOT District 11 is announcing the southbound Bloomfield Bridge in the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, will close to traffic beginning Wednesday, July 29, weather permitting.

Beginning at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, a 23 consecutive day, around-the-clock closure of southbound Bloomfield Bridge will occur.  The bridge will be closed to southbound traffic at Liberty Avenue.  Traffic will be detoured.

Posted Detour:
From the northern end of the bridge, take Liberty Avenue east
Turn right onto Baum Boulevard
Turn right onto North Craig Street
North Craig Street becomes Bigelow Boulevard
Follow Bigelow Boulevard back to the Bloomfield Bridge
End detour

Motorists are advised to use caution, slow down and expect changing traffic patterns.  Work zone safety is everyone’s responsibility.

To help keep motorists informed as work on the Route 380 project continues, remember to sign-up to receive eAlerts for the latest news and project updates OR visit the project information website at bigelow-baumblvd.otmapgh.org.

Polish Hill Arts Fest photos — part 2

So much happened at the festival – here’s the second installment of photos!

The musicians of Timbeleza brought a big blast of energy with their Brazilian samba drumming,



And then the dancers showed up,


This young festival-goer was completely entranced by the samba ladies


and this little girl got to help Timbeleza play,


Pandemic Pete was on hand all day to do sound and keep the music going between sets,


Laura Zurowski’s dream-themed Sleepwatch project offered a quiet place for visitors to sit and contemplate


Nicole Bloch of Erra Creations,


Mathew Tembo and the Afro Routes band brought the sounds of Zambia,


These two gentlemen were enjoying the music and demanded to have their photo taken,


The May Day Marching Band got going just as the rain came,


… and kept the energy going through a short storm, as people danced in the street,


… until the storm ended, and the music kept going,


Then PARTY! came on, and brought some 80s rock-n-roll energy,


Which got the kids dancing,


Until it was time to stop, and call it a day.


Thanks to all the performers, vendors, organizations, and volunteers.  And thanks to everyone who came out to help make this a great day!

(All photos by Leslie Clague)

Polish Hill Arts Festival photos — part 1

There were a lot of great photos from this very hot, fun, and exhausting day, so this is the first of two installments.

Here’s Elias Khouri and his dad Najeeb.  Elias just turned 14 and has been playing guitar for a year and a half.  This was his first public performance, and he’s pretty amazing.


This is Karen Lillis, writer and organizer of Small Press Pittsburgh,


Jeffrey Krusl, with Jude Vachon, saying hello,


Florence Smith, of Djoi Designs, with her wonderful jewelry and accessories,


Aubrey and Kazzy had terrariums, among other things,


Joe Holtz, who has been at the festival every year since it began,


Garick Tai-Lee and Charlie Alessi with their ceramics, here with a visit from a mobile art project,


Jabari Mason (and the gorgeous Mrs. Mason) has also come back every year,


The Mobile Sculpture Workshop came back with their welding setup and art-in-progress,


Volunteers from Assemble, with art activities,


Elizabeth Monian of Land Art Generator Initiative,


Little House Big Art,




Carnegie Library, who have also joined us every year,

IMG_0373The Hills and the Rivers — such a great band,


There were lots of kids, and ices, of course,


And we’ll be back soon with the rest of the photos!

(All photos by Leslie Clague)

Polish Hill Arts Fest: art activities and demonstrations

We’ve got some great organizations and individuals bringing free art activities, demonstrations, and projects to the festival!

The Mobile Sculpture Workshop, a pilot program of the Industrial Arts Co-op, will begin building their second major sculpture at the festival. The sculpture will be designed by eight local area youth, and its on-going construction will be displayed at various events over the summer.

mobile sculpture studio

The Mobile Sculpture Workshop was created by the Industrial Arts Co-op as a summer workshop aimed at demonstrating the techniques of safe and proper welding and metal fabrication to Pittsburgh-area youth grades 9-12. Eight sculpture apprentices have been chosen, along with three alternates, to help construct a large-scale sculpture for public display and installation in the Hazelwood area. You can learn more about the Mobile Sculpture Workshop by visiting their website and following their Facebook page.

Little House, Big Art



Little House, Big Art is a unique art and craft studio on the Northside where kids, adults and everyone in between can come in and make stuff in guided projects or in an open studio. The activities they are bringing to the festival include some paintables (canvas panels, wooden picture frames, and wooden snakes) and stuff for plastic and wood beading.

Carnegie Library


Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will lead a Gardening Gloves activity at the event and provide materials from its Music, Film and Audio Collection for check out with your library card.

45 Days of Sleepwatch



45 Days of Sleepwatch
In March of 2015, Laura Zurowski found a series of 45 poems posted to Craigslist Missed Connections. Titled “Sleepwatch,” each poem explores the common symbols and themes that infuse our dreams. In this interactive project, visitors can read the original Sleepwatch poems, learn about the meanings of various dream elements, and create and share their own piece of writing or artwork in response.



Assemble, a community space for arts and technology in Garfield, will bring an interactive kids crafting activity and information about its free and low-cost STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) youth programs.   This is their third year at the festival.  We haven’t heard what they’ll be doing this year, but it’s sure to be fun!  (Photo from 2013 Polish Hill Arts Festival)

Land Art Generator Initiative


Land Art Generator Initiative will provide drop-in workshop activities that invite people of all ages to think about renewable energy and sustainable cities through the lens of art. Visitors will learn about the LAGI 2016 STEAM Prize and how to participate.

At the LAGI table will be images of large-scale public artwork proposals from past LAGI design competitions. Also on hand will be innovative renewable energy technologies (third-generation thin films and organic photovoltaics, etc.) that kids can play with and learn about. A station will be set up that will take kids through the design process and give them the tools they need to draw their ideas of an artwork for the city that can provide clean electricity. STEAM Prize flyers will be free to take away, providing all the information that kids and parents will need to be a part of it (opens on August 15).

LAGI Books and field guides will allow kids to look up more information about technologies and see additional examples of artwork proposals. Art+Energy Flash Cards will be available for kids to use and to take away.

Visitors will also get a sneak peek at the WindNest public artwork with desktop motel and prototype.



Polish Hill Arts Fest: Vendor preview #3


Here’s the next installment of the vendor previews!  Jason Bartlett returns with his evocative watercolor paintings.



The ladies of Siren Studio have an eclectic output, each with her own style.  Here’s Amanda Synpweic,

Amanda S. Fidgety Findings

Jamie Miller,

Jamie B Miller

… and Monica Cervone:

Rising Roots. M Cervone M

Guglielmo Botter lives in Italy, but has family ties in Pittsburgh and has been visiting here each summer, making pen and ink drawings of the city.  Learn more about Guglielmo and his work here.



Elizabeth Klaczak will bring her handmade soaps and bath products.



Candace Davis and Seth McBurney will have multi-media crafts, including planters, garments, and drawings.  They also collaborated to create the poster for this year’s festival!




Jordon Milchak of On the Skids, will have his t-shirts and designs. Check out more work here.





Trileodeon is the multi-media work of the very talented Niffer Desmond.  In her words, her work includes “awakening arts, learning toys, healing tools, inspiring apparel, eco conscious home decor”.  Learn more on her website, and see more of her work in her Etsy shop.




Jude Vachon will have reusable tote bags, envelope clutches,  bike streamers, fabric headbands, and more.



Sharing a table with Jude will be printmaker Jeffrey Krusl.  See more of Jeffrey’s work here, and learn about his art practice here.



Polish Hill Arts Fest: the music!


Just got final confirmations from bands, so without further ado, here’s the performance schedule!

12:15   Pandemic Pete
Pete Spynda plays a “hybrid of traditional folk music and contemporary dance music from around the world. Dj sets are borderless, combining cutting edge dance music from remote regions of the world with traditional folk music.”  Pete will be on hand all day to keep the music coming between band sets.  Click here to listen to Pandemic.

1:00  Urgent Notice
Elias Khouri is a 14 year old Polish Hill guitar whiz who has only been playing for a year and a half.  He’ll do a short set for his first public performance.  We think he’s pretty amazing — check it out!

2:00 Tilley Hawk
Tilley’s playing a short set of country music.  We don’t have a clip to share, but based on her other gig (she’s the singer for the punk band Zeitgeist), it’s sure to be awesome.


4:00 The Hills and the Rivers
They describe themselves as “Post-apocalyptic river folk. From the roots to the branches, the springs to the sea.”  Listen to some of their music here.


5:00   Timbeleza
A percussion group specializing in Brazilian rhythms, from the samba batucada of Rio’s famous Carnaval to the samba reggae and funk-infused Bahian music of the north coast.  Timbeleza has played at the festival every year since 2009, and they’re big neighborhood favorite.


6:00   Mathew Tembo and the Afro Routes Band
Mathew is from Zambia, now based in the Midwest, and his music fuses indigenous Zambian vibes with contemporary sounds.  Check out his website to listen.


7:00 May Day Marching Band
This Polish Hill-based group of musicians got its name from association with the Polish Hill May Day Parade.
Check out some of their music here.

may day marching band

8:00 PARTY!
A (mostly) Polish Hill based, female fronted cover band playing 70s and 80s hits, some pop, and some metal.  They’ve been a big hit at Oysterfest, Pumpkinfest in homestead, wrestling events, and lot of shows, so while they’re not the usual PHAF fare, we’re glad to have them here.  Maybe they will take requests.  Until recently PARTY! was known by another name; here’s some video.



Need info on how to get here and where to park?  Here it is: PHAF2015_gettinghereandparking


Next portion of the PennDOT Bigelow Boulevard roadwork starts on Saturday July 11




OTMA traffic advisory


 On Saturday July 11, a new portion of the PennDOT Bigelow Boulevard roadwork will begin, which will entail new lane closures and detours.  Here is the informational Traffic Advisory from Oakland Transit Management Association, which is the public contact for the project.

PennDOT District 11 is announcing a new traffic configuration will occur on Route 380 in the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, will begin on Saturday night, July 11 weather permitting.

Beginning at 8 p.m. on Saturday night, all traffic between North Craig Street and approximately Herron Avenue will be shifted into the eastbound lanes. A single-lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction of the eastbound lanes as crews conduct roadway reconstruction in the westbound lanes. This traffic configuration will be in place through late August. At that time, all traffic will be shifted into the newly constructed westbound lanes, so eastbound reconstruction can begin.

Additionally, on Saturday, July 11, a long-term single-lane closure will occur in both directions on the structure that carries Route 380 Baum Boulevard over the Neville Street ramp to the PAT busway in between Morewood Avenue and North Craig Street to continue structural steel work activities. This long-term restriction will be in effect through December.

This $12.24 million roadway reconstruction project of Route 380 (Baum Boulevard/Bigelow Boulevard), between Morewood Avenue and Herron Avenue, includes full depth reconstruction from the eastbound off-ramp of the Bloomfield Bridge to the Baum Avenue Bridge over the PAT Busway, reconstruction of the Baum Avenue bridge deck and milling and resurfacing of Baum Avenue from the bridge to Morewood Avenue. Additional work includes reconstruction of ADA curb cut ramps, traffic signal upgrades and pavement reconstruction at the Bloomfield Bridge. The overall project will conclude in August of 2016.

Motorists are advised to use caution, slow down and be prepared for changing traffic patterns when traveling through the area.  Work zone safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Visit www.otma-pgh.org  for more information or to sign-up to receive eAlerts (updates, news, ETC) about the project.

Polish Hill Arts Fest: vendor preview #2

Here are more of the 30+ vendors who will be at the arts festival!  First up is Small Press Pittsburgh, represented by writer and organizer Karen Lillis.  Karen will bring a wide selection of books from local authors.  Learn more about Small Press Pittsburgh.



Poison Apple Printshop is artist and printmaker Adrienne Rozzi, who creates original handmade art and fashion inspired by witchcraft, magick, and the occult. Check out her website to see more of her work.

Poison Apple Printshop Moon Patches

PA_Maydays Magic Circle Screenprint

PA_Midnight Spell Tshirt

Adam Waddell is a returning vendor whose distinctive ceramic and multi-media work is always a favorite.  See more of Adam’s work in his Etsy shop.



Darren Myers is a new vendor and a Polish Hill resident.  He’ll have his hardwood bowls, cutting boards, and some raw slab furniture made in collaboration with Ben Grubb.  Check out more of Darren’s work in his Etsy shop.DarrenMyers_1

Myers_Grubb_sycamore bench

Candle With a Cause products are custom designed for the non-profit organizations that are featured on each label. The holders are made of post-consumer glass and the candles are soy wax.

Line Sheet Final Copy

Reyghan Pierce is a young Polish Hill artist who’s been showing at the festival for four years.




Sharing a table with Reyghan will be Maeve Gannon, a painter and ceramicist.

Maeve_Clay and Fabric Doll


Maeve_Ceramic Work

Eryn Hughes of Apothecary Muse will bring her handcrafted small batch herbal soap, insect repellent spray, skin salves, natural deodorant.  See the full range of Eryn’s products in her Etsy shop.



That’s it for now — we’ll preview the rest of the artists and craftspeople next week!

Polish Hill Arts Fest vendor preview #1

We’ve got another great lineup of artists and craftspeople this year.  Some are returning vendors, and some are with us for the first time.  There’s some great work coming to the festival this year — here’s the first preview.

Kirsten Lowe-Rebel makes prints, pillows, and handcrafted jewelry with Pittsburgh themes.  You can see more of here work at her Etsy store, or her website.

Lowe_Rebel_Kitchen towel BLOG

LoweRebel_16th st bridge pillow BLOG

LoweRebel_batch of cuffs BLOG

Renee and Cathie of Animoon Workshop create one-of-a-kind jewelry, home décor, and collaged gifts from reclaimed and natural artifacts.  They have vended with us before, and it’s great to have them back this year.  See more of their work.

AnimoonWorkshop-bullet necklace



Owlet Organics is another return vendor.  Amanda Comeau makes adorable organic clothes and items for babies and kids.  Check out her website to see more.




Garick Tai-Lee and Charlie Alessi are Polish Hill residents who’ve shown at the festival for several years.  Their gorgeous ceramic work


Lee_Alessi_ShinoMagic Vase


Jared Ondovchik is also a Polish Hill resident and returning vendor.  He shared some information about these handcrafted knives: “The first picture is of a butcher’s knife hand forged from 3/16″ thick 1084.  It was finished with a mustard patina and a rosewood handle. The second knife was forged from an old file.  I drew the handle way out and wrapped it back into itself to give it an organic look.  I even forged a leaf on the end and framed it inside the handle.”



“The third picture is of a 8” chef’s knife that I am really proud of.  It was forged from 1095 and has an ironwood handle with brass hardware.  The tang runs through the handle and is peened over the bottom piece of brass for a permanent seal.”

Stay tuned for more festival previews, including more artists and craft vendors, the musical acts, and the activities!